Junior right-hander Chris Huffman (Fort Defiance, Va./Fort Defiance) and freshman left-hander Michael Evans (Falls Church, Va./George C. Marshall) combined to limit Northeastern to seven hits and a pair of early runs in a 3-2 JMU win in the opener of a Colonial Athletic Association baseball series on Friday night at Eagle Field at Veterans Memorial Park.
JMU won its third consecutive league game to improve to 7-8 in the CAA and 16-29 overall. The Dukes remain in fifth place with five conference games remaining but gained a cushion of one and a half games on sixth-place Hofstra and Northeastern, which fell to 6-10 in the league and 21-25 overall.
Huffman allowed a pair of early runs in the second and third innings but then battled through seven innings to improve to 5-6. He allowed two runs on seven hits with five walks while matching his season high with eight strikeouts. Evans picked up his first career save after allowing just a walk in two innings with one strikeout.
After falling behind 2-0, the Dukes struck for runs in the third, fourth and fifth to charge ahead and held on behind the pitching of Huffman and Evans, who combined to strand 10 Northeastern runners on the bases.
Senior third baseman Ty McFarland (Bridgewater, Va./Turner Ashby), who moved into the career top 10 in at bats with 730, paced the JMU offense by going 3-for-5 with a run and an RBI. Redshirt sophomore shortstop Kyle Weston (Penn Laird, Va./Spotswood) had two hits with a run and an RBI.
Nick Berger took the loss for the Huskies to fall to 2-5 after allowing three runs, two earned, on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings. Catcher Josh Treff was the lone Northeastern batter with multiple hits. Third baseman Cam Hanley had a solo home run.
The visitors struck first in the second on Hanley’s leadoff solo shot to right center against a stiff wind blowing to left. The Huskies added a second run in the third inning when a hit by pitch and single were followed by first baseman Brad Burcroff’s RBI single to make it 2-0.
JMU started the third with two singles and two walks but had nothing to show for it as one out was registered on the bases. With the bases loaded, Weston put the Dukes on the board with an RBI groundout.
The Dukes struck again in the fourth to tie the score with a two-out rally. Freshman left fielder Josh Wyatt (Eden, Md./James M. Bennett) singled and junior center fielder Kevin Husum (Panama City, Fla./Bay) walked after a pair of quick outs. McFarland then hit his third single of the game, a hard shot through the left side to drive in the tying run.
Madison pushed two runners into scoring position in the fifth with a Weston single and a Tyler Gregory (Dothan, Ala./Houston Academy) double struck through the right side. Sophomore catcher Bobby San Martin (Fairfax, Va./Centreville) grounded out to third to give JMU a 3-2 lead after its third straight inning scoring a run.